Toyota 4Runner Build Spans Many Years (and Miles)

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Toyota 4Runner

Twelve years, hundreds of mods, and tens of thousands of miles. And this Toyota 4Runner build keeps on evolving.

When you purchase a project, one of several outcomes are likely. Maybe you give up on the build, whether it be from frustration or lack of funds. Or, you might finish it and keep the truck. Or sell it. The best possible outcome, of course, is that you continue to tinker and perfect your ride over the course of many years. Enjoying the fruits of your labor, rather than prematurely severing ties.

The latter is exactly what Yota Tech member habanero has done with her trusty 1996 Toyota 4Runner. She originally purchased the ‘ute back in 2005, and drove it for five years before deciding that some repairs were needed. Little did she know that his initial post back in January 2010 would turn into the ever-evolving project it’s become today.

Toyota 4Runner

That, of course, is an ongoing saga spanning seven years and 169 pages (as of this writing) of documented progress. Things began, innocently enough, with a Sonoran Steel System 1.2-inch lift and Michelin A/T LT285/75r16 tires. But they quickly escalated to include a laundry list of add-ons, as well as repairs, along the way. Not to mention a whole bunch of memorable trips and miles driven.

To date, modifications run the gauntlet from rear air bags to a bigger alternator and Bus Depot awning. A rear e-locker and manual hub retrofit helps out off-road. Pretty much the entire suspension, from the control arms to the bushings has received attention. A body lift gives the 4Runner more clearance, and fresh ball joints keep it all on track. To top things off, a full-on brake job slows the truck’s roll with ease.

The appearance of the 4Runner wasn’t neglected either, of course. A bumper gap fix gives the front a cleaner look. Out back, a 4x Innovations piece holds a spare tire. The grille was modified, ’99+ headlights installed, and Land Cruiser wheels fitted. Light bars help navigate dark trails, and a winch is there to help if trouble strikes. Oh, and the interior has received a full refresh as well.

Fittingly, habanero has put her work to the test over the years. She’s taken the 4Runner on at least one good vacation every year since 2010, documenting each one on Yota Tech. To date, she’s logged nearly 300,000 miles. And many of them weren’t exactly accumulated on paved surfaces. No, they racked up over the course of many trails, passes, and muddy roads.

Toyota 4Runner

Plenty of stuff has broken, torn up, and even fallen off along the way. And each time, habanero fixes the problem and soldiers on. There’s no putting a price on the things she’s seen and the experiences she’s had along the way, of course. After all, the fun part of any journey isn’t the destination. It’s the journey itself. And by the looks of things, habanero’s journey in her 4Runner isn’t about to end any time soon. We’d highly recommend investing the time in checking it all out in her wildly expansive build thread here. Trust us, it’s well worth it!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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